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How to hold your own opera sleepover

Missed out on a ticket? Read our sleepover guide for grown ups.

By Hannah Griffiths (Former Learning and Participation Manager (Opera))

20 April 2012 at 4.05pm | 5 Comments

We’re getting tremendously excited about Europe’s first ever opera sleepover, taking place here at the Royal Opera House on Friday 11 May 2012. The ballot for tickets has now closed, but if you didn’t manage to secure one, don’t despair! Why not hold your own opera sleepover for friends or family? Send us photographs of your event ( and we’ll post the best ones along with pictures from our own sleepover.

To help you get started, we’ve put together 10 top tips for holding an operatic sleepover, inspired by some of our favourite works:

1.      Draw up a guest list. Inviting former lovers and rivals will ensure everyone’s talking about your party for weeks. Follow Violetta’s lead in La traviata, Act II scene 2, where she is confronted with both Baron Douphol and Alfredo. If you can get your ex-boyfriends gambling against one another, so much the better. Everyone loves a scandal.

2.      Decide what to wear. Turning up in disguise is a great way of gatecrashing parties or causing mischief. Take inspiration from Don Giovanni Act I, where Ottavio, Anna and Elvira infiltrate a party by wearing masks, or in Act II when Leporello tries to seduce a girl by pretending to be the Don. Very shady behaviour! You might like to look at our costumes online here for inspiration.

3.      Prepare some food. Consider the many delicacies on offer from street vendors in Act II of La bohème: oranges, dates, hot chestnuts, sweets and coconut milk.

4.      Draw up a playlist. Select tracks that are sure to get everyone singing along. A Brindisi (a drinking song) is sure to be popular, as is a Seguidilla. Try ‘Il segreto per esser felice’ from Lucrezia Borgia or ‘Près des remparts’ from Carmen, where Carmen sings about dancing and drinking. There’s also a brilliantly rousing drinking song in praise of beer in The Bartered Bride.

5.      Sort out some activities, to make sure your party goes with a swing. Flirting and dancing are good fun, but beware! This kind of behaviour can lead guests to quarrel, renounce their friendship and challenge one another to a duel. Read up on Act II of Eugene Onegin for how not to organize a party.

6.      Have a singing contest. Less Eurovision Song Contest, more Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg. Contestants must sing a song of their own composition, following an agreed set of rules. When a contestant breaks a rule, mark his or her mistake noisily on a chalkboard.

7.      Compose a piece of music yourself. Don’t have a symphony orchestra at your disposal? Don’t despair! In Le Grand macabre Ligeti writes for a huge variety of domestic items, such as saucepans, trays of crockery, paper bags, alarm clocks and greaseproof paper… Explore the musical potential of everything in your house!

8.      Tell a good bedtime story. With magic musical instruments, a prince, his comic sidekick and the Queen of the Night, Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute) has all the perfect ingredients. If you want a ghost story, try The Turn of the Screw – but don’t count on having sweet dreams.

9.      When it’s time to go to sleep, listen to a nice lullaby. In Hänsel und Gretel, the Sandman sprinkles sleeping dust in the children’s eyes, then they sing their ‘evening prayer’. Ever so soothing.

10.  Not able to sleep? Lament with ‘Oh sleep, why dost thou leave me?’ from Semele. Or, if you’re feeling calmer, try the humming chorus from Madama Butterfly. This is the music that accompanies Butterfly’s night-long vigil as she waits for Pinkerton’s ship to come it. Just don’t think about what happens next…

Our sleepover is being held as part of European Opera Days 2012, in association with English National Opera.

By Hannah Griffiths (Former Learning and Participation Manager (Opera))

20 April 2012 at 4.05pm

This article has been categorised Learning, Off stage, Opera and tagged by John Copley, Education, European Opera Days, La bohème, learning, opera, Production, sleepover

This article has 5 comments

  1. Paul White responded on 20 April 2012 at 6:47pm Reply

    Can you select your own seat?

    • Hannah Griffiths responded on 10 May 2012 at 12:56pm

      Thanks for your comment, Paul! We're actually going to be sleeping in the Amphitheatre Bar and Resturant after tomorrow night's performance of La fille mal gardée. So no seat selecting is required!

  2. OMG this sounds like the perfect party.

  3. Great theme party!

  4. Susan responded on 1 May 2012 at 6:29am Reply

    Clever, clever, clever. Can't wait to see the photo.

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